Big Money Goes Around the World …….

When we last left our heroine, she was on the verge of bankruptcy and she was on the lookout for a roommate …….  that was 1999.  She found him.  Anthony.  And “she” was “me.”

Within two weeks I had halved my rent, halved the utilities, was able to have cable and now had internet.  This was a lot of breathing room – and it was good at first.  In stead of coming home alone, there was someone there.  There was someone to help cook and help clean.   No more VHS tapes at night to entertain myself – VHS tapes I had watched a kazillion times.  Now there was CABLE.  It was a dream.  What a relief.

I started drinking more heavily – and I never dreamed that was possible.  I felt like Miss Moneybags.  The load was taken off and ……. you might think I’d use the extra money to start spending down my credit card balance.  You might think that, yes. It would be most reasonable to think that.  But I was not reasonable.  I had all the time in the world to take care of that, I had a roommate, and besides ……. it’d been a long time since I had cash on-hand to do what I wanted.

So he was a big help.  But?  In time, he became someone to be fed and someone to pick up after.   He was someone who ate my food.  He left dishes in the sink.  He snored – and this kept me awake in another room.   This was the least of my worries – as aggravating as it was.  Anthony obtained my ATM card and became aware of the PIN number somehow.  He ordered things online with the ATM card/Debit card.  Not only this, but he emptied my account at one point – and it had a measly $85.32 in it anyway, so that wasn’t hard to do.  But he overdrew and my overdraft protection at the time meant I owed $25 for each overdraft.  He overdrew three times.  Soooooooo………… there was this “loan” he didn’t ask for PLUS $75 interest.  He made no apologies, just justified it by saying “I’m sorry. I was drunk. I’ll pay you back.”  And? He never did.   He called out of work.  A LOT.   He didn’t have money.

There were more heaps of beer cans being thrown out.  It was getting even more embarrassing.  He never bought beer.  Just drank mine – and I was buying more.  Now I had two mouths to feed.   I thought about playing chicken with him – just not bringing any home.  But to deny him was to deny me, and that couldn’t happen.  I thought about sneaking in booze and just keeping it in my closet, but the idea of skulking off to my room and sipping consumed me with resentment.  I shouldn’t have to do this.  Anywayssssss…………he’d probably call me out on it and I’d feel selfish for not sharing.  And I resented him even more for that.

His drinking was annoying.  Sometimes he’d cry.  Sometimes he’d get angry.  Sometimes he’d be cheerful and fun.  There was no telling what would happen.  It sucked.    What a buzz kill. Yeah.  He was killing my buzz. [And you’ll notice I’m not mentioning any of MY flaws.  At that time, I didn’t see that I had any.]

Now I had full rent to pay, utilities to pay AND cable and internet………and there was a slug on my couch benefitting from it all.  Actually. It was his couch.  But it was my livingroom.  The credit card came back out – the balance was growing.   The place was always a mess.  I was buying more groceries.  I was not getting reimbursed.

In four month’s time, Anthony was tossed.  Now what?

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Money, So They Say …. Is the Root of all Evil Today. Todayyyyy. Today.

You are short on your rent by $400.  It’s due in the mail Friday to get it by the first.  Pay day is Thursday, but you’re a waitperson.  You can hope your check is $125……….  roughly.  Your head spins with earnings potential.  If Tuesday is busy (for a Tuesday), you might make $40.   Wednesday night there is a big reservation – BIG – but there’s another staffer on.  Hopefully you can make $80-ish.  So now we’ve doubled that check, but we’re still short.

It would make sense to not drink for the rest of the week and scrape up as much funding as possible.  But if you’re an alcoholic like I am, you’re not able to abstain.  Not for money.  Not for the love of your home.  Not for family and friends. Not for anything.  That monkey on your back is no longer just picking lice off of you and grooming you and seeming useful – it’s yelling and pounding on you most savagely until you get to the package store or bar or medicine cabinet or whatever it takes to quiet it down ……..

So it might make sense, at least, to purchase alcohol at the package store where there is less markup than at a bar.  Harm-reduction, right?  If you’re an alcoholic who loves the bar scene, this isn’t doable either.  You might miss something, after all.  You already spend your life feeling isolated everywhere you go and you seek crowded rooms in which to feel alone.  Somehow you feel even more alone in these crowded rooms, but you keep insanely seeking companionship there. 

So one solution is a cash advance on the credit card.  But you know they’ll hit you with a surcharge for EVER if you don’t pay it back right away.  And you won’t.  You already know you won’t.  So how to avoid this …… as a person who waits tables, you bring your credit card to work.  You take the BIGGEST bill that is paid in cash and “treat them to dinner” with your credit card and pocket the cash.  Cash advance.  Free of charge.  And ……  you didn’t tip yourself, right?  So that’s less to report to the IRS, less that will be taxed in next week’s paycheck.  You do this a couple of nights.  You have money for the bar, money for the package store because you’ll want to drink after last call – perhaps more urgently than before you started, AND you have your rent.  Nice.

You go to the bar and you justify drinking every night by telling yourself, “Hey. It’s alright. My bills always get paid.”

You do this night after nauseating night.  $30 one night.  $85 the next.  You bring $20 to the bar vowing that is ALL you will spend.  You leave the bar twice to hit the ATM.  You stand next to the bartender’s five dollar tip she hadn’t noticed – she grabs the fiver, looks at you and says “another ___________[insert name of your favorite drink]?”  You nod.  She rings you up.  It’s not stealing, right?  Just a misunderstanding.    And you let her keep the change. How noble of you.  You take out the crumpled $10-spot hidden in the recesses of your wallet.  It’s for a cab in case you’re too shitfaced to drive.  You drink it all up.  You weren’t going to use it anyway.

Money.  Makes the world go round, doesn’t it?

So night after nauseating night, you do this.  Your bills will get paid.  Your rent is paid.  Your electric is …. a little behind …. but if you send them SOMETHING they won’t shut you off, right?  It’s alright.  You get the credit card statement.

Balance:  $9,076.97

Charges this Period:  $856.23

Minimum Payment Due:  $75.00

You send them $75.  You’re happy.  It’s not making the balance any smaller, but you’ll make more money soon.  You’ll get more hours – they cut them because you were late a few times. Pssssh.  They KNOW you work nights!  That’s what they  GET for putting you on mornings!  They should KNOW you can’t handle it!  So?   This whole thing is on THEM and your being denied your full time hours is bullshit.  Isn’t it???  You’ll get more hours and then you’ll get a better job and you won’t be in this rut.  That apartment is hard to afford with the utilities and the electric heat.  Who wouldn’t be broke?

Then this month is identical to last month with the struggle to make ends meet, racking up debts on the credit card, and justifying it with “my bills get paid.”    You have TONS of beer cans.  Garbage bags full. You vow to return them, but it’s getting to be too embarrassing.  You slip them in your trash can on garbage day.  You have a recycle bin …… but filling it with this heap?  And putting it at the end of YOUR driveway when you live on a busy street?  UH-uh.  No.  So you throw them out, the incriminating rustle-rattle acting as an alarm as you lug them hastily down the back stairs to your garbage.  Headlights head toward the driveway and you want to drop the bag and run.  The car passes.  Your heart is pounding.  You throw them violently into the garbage can and cover it quickly before anyone’s the wiser.  You just threw away $18.  Eighteen bucks bought you some pride.  Just a little.  But the nagging feeling is there.  Those cans were less than a week’s worth.  AND you drink at the bar.  It’s hard to see that expansive garbage bag and not realize how much you drink.  Oh.  And there’s another upstairs from the same time frame.  But this is why you go to different package stores every night.  So the staff won’t know you drink EVERY day.

The money.  Something’s gotta give.  Something’s GOT to give.  You need a roommate.  You start looking.  You’re not at all fussy at this point.